Editor’s Weekly: Time to party!

With so much bad news hitting the headlines in recent months it was really refreshing to focus on something positive for a change.

The annual Lawyer Awards are all about celebrating the achievements of the legal profession. And despite the recession this year’s event on Tuesday 23 June was no different with well over 1,100 lawyers congregating at the swanky Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane.

Amongst those picking up gongs were Slaughter and May and Linklaters, which won the Corporate and Banking and Finance team of the year awards respectively.

Slaughters was recognised for its work on the UK Government’s £35bn bank bailout, which also saw corporate partner Charles Randell pick up the Partner of the Year award. Linklaters, meanwhile, won its award for handling the UK aspects of the collapse of Lehman.

But it was definitely Norton Rose’s night as it picked up the Law Firm of the Year Award for its performance over the last 12 months including most notably that of its corporate department. The firm has also pursued an ambitious overseas expansion, which only this week saw it join forces with Australian firm Deacons (read article). Norton Rose was also the first major law firm to propose a flexible working policy, a move that has helped the firm to avoid redundancies. That’s no mean feat in a recession.

Click here for a full list of winners as it’s generally worth mentioning a firm’s awards/achievements when applying for training contracts, especially during an interview.

Elsewhere in the news Clifford Chance has become the latest magic circle firm to report a slump in its retention rates. The firm has confirmed that it has 70 trainees qualifying in September and plans to retain at least 49, giving it a retention rate at best of 70 per cent. Clifford Chance’s retention rate for September 2008 qualifiers was approximately 95 per cent (read story).

In stark contrast Farrer & Co has become the latest firm to announce a 100 per cent retention rate joining the likes of Bird & Bird and Cleary Gottlieb proving it’s not all bad news on the retention rates front.